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Suncoast Surgeon Performs Region’s 1st Robotic Hysterectomy Through Single Belly Button Incision

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SARASOTA – The robotic surgical team at Sarasota Memorial Hospital performed the region’s first robotic-assisted hysterectomy last week through a single tiny incision in a patient’s belly button.

Led by Gynecological Robotic Surgeon and Sarasota Memorial Chief of Gynecology, Michael Swor, MD, the hospital’s robotic team removed the Sarasota woman’s uterus through a 1-1/4 inch incision in her navel using the da Vinci robotic system, enabling a virtually scar-free procedure. The procedure, performed Feb. 25, took less than 2 hours and the patient was able to go home just 14 hours later.


Sarasota Memorial Chief of Gynecology Mike Swor, MD (center), led the hospital’s robotic surgical team in its first robotic-assisted single incision hysterectomy Feb. 25. From left, he was supported by his partner Kelly Shedd, DO, Sarasota Memorial’s robotic surgical team Michelle Kunkle, CSFA, and Kris Gemme, CSFA, and Michelle Wellard, RN.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the specialized single-site instruments for use with the da Vinci System in gynecological procedures last year. Since then, Dr Swor and Sarasota Memorial’s robotics team were the first on the Suncoast to complete the training necessary to offer this latest treatment option to women facing gynecological surgery.

An estimated one-third of all U.S. women have a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) by age 60, usually due to benign gynecologic conditions like fibroids (growths in and/or around the uterus), endometriosis (uterine lining growing outside the uterus) or pelvic prolapse (slipping of the uterus, vagina and/or bladder). These conditions can cause chronic pain, heavy bleeding and other debilitating symptoms.

Previously, treatment options included open abdominal or vaginal routes, or laparoscopically with or without robotic technology. But the laparoscopic approaches almost always required multiple incisions. 

Single site robotic surgery combines the best of both worlds, Dr. Swor said. 

“We’ve been providing minimally invasive options for women with gynecological conditions for many years,” Dr. Swor said. “But now we can offer single site surgery with the enhanced visualization, dexterity and control offered by the da Vinci system.”

During a da Vinci robot-assisted procedure, the surgeon sits at a console a few feet away from the operating table, viewing high-definition 3D images and using hand and foot controls to move the surgical instruments and camera. The system translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into the most precise movements possible using miniaturized instruments inside the patient.

For patients, robotic surgery often results in smaller incisions with less pain, less scarring, less blood loss and shorter hospitalization and recovery times.

Sarasota Memorial was the first hospital in the region to pioneer da Vinci robotic surgery when it purchased the latest generation robot in 2006. Today, it is the region’s leading referral center with three robotic surgery suites and nearly two dozen robotic surgeons who have performed more than 2,200 minimally invasive procedures across a broad range specialties – cardiac, thoracic, urologic, colorectal, bariatric, gynecologic and oncologic surgery.

In addition to hysterectomies, Dr. Swor said the robotic assisted single-site approach can be used for ovarian surgery, pelvic floor repair, endometriosis and fibroid removal. 

“As technology rapidly advances, we want to be on the front line of teaching and training for the highest quality of care,” he said.


About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System: Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional referral center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of inpatient, outpatient and extended care services, with more than 800 physicians, 4,000 employees and 800,000 patient visits a year. Sarasota Memorial’s 806-bed acute care hospital has been recognized repeatedly as one of the nation’s best, with superior patient outcomes and a complete continuum of outpatient services– from urgent care centers and physician groups, to laboratory and imaging centers, home health, rehabilitation and long-term care.

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